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California Registration Renewal

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Registration Renewal Summary

On our California Registration Renewal page, you’ll learn how to renew your CA vehicle registration, and find information about renewal fees, emissions tests, changing your address, and acceptable forms of payment for registration renewals.

Continue reading below to learn about Registration Renewals in California.

Renewing Your Registration in California

You can renew your California vehicle registration online, by phone, by mail, or in person at your nearest CA DMV office location. Refer to your registration renewal notice for specific instructions.

The California DMV will mail your renewal notice approximately 60 days before your vehicle registration expires. Be sure to pay attention to the date your CA vehicle registration expires, as the CA DMV will incur a penalty for late payments.

Online Registration Renewals

To renew your registration online, visit the CA DMV online registration renewal portal.

Before you start the process, be sure to have the following:

  • Your license plate number.
  • The last 5 digits of your vehicle identification number (VIN).
  • A registration renewal notice with your current address, and no delinquent fees or any unpaid parking tickets.
  • Proof of car insurance on file with the DMV.
  • Proof of smog certificate on file with the DMV.
  • Payment information for CA registration renewal fees.
    • The CA DMV will apply a 2% fee for all credit card transactions.
    • There is no fee for payment via your checking account.

Please contact the California DMV if you have specific questions.

Registration Renewals by Mail

To renew your CA vehicle registration by mail, gather the following:

  • Your CA registration renewal notice.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Proof of smog certification, if required.
  • Payment by check or money order for the registration renewal fees.
    • Refer to your renewal notice for specific details.

Mail everything to:

DMV Renewal
PO Box 942897
Sacramento, CA 94269-0001

Registration Renewals In Person

If online registration renewal is not an option on your renewal notice, you’ll need to visit your local CA DMV field office.

Be sure to bring the following:

  • A copy of your CA registration renewal notice or your current vehicle registration.
  • Your California driver license.
  • Proof of car insurance.
  • Payment for applicable CA registration renewal fees.
  • Proof of payment for any outstanding traffic tickets, if applicable.

You may contact the California DMV directly if you have specific questions.

Registration Renewal By Phone

NOTE: You CANNOT renew your registration by phone if you have outstanding traffic tickets.

To renew your CA vehicle registration by phone, call the DMV directly at (800) 777-0133.

Be ready to have the following handy:

  • Your registration renewal notice (showing your current address).
  • Your Renewal ID Number (RIN), which you can find on your CA renewal notice.
  • Proof of car insurance on file with the DMV.
  • Proof of smog certificate on file with the DMV.
  • Your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  • Your CA license plate number.
  • An acceptable payment method for your CA renewal fees.

Did you lose your CA registration renewal notice or have not yet received it?

If so, please contact your local CA DMV or DMV Customer Service at (800) 777-0133.

California Registration Renewal Notice

At least 60 days before your registration renewal date, the California DMV will mail your registration renewal notice.

CA registration renewal fees become delinquent 67 days after the notification date on the vehicle record. The additional 7 days allow for mailing time.

Your renewal notice will include details about:

  • The expiration date of your registration
  • Your required renewal fees
  • Smog requirements, when applicable
  • Any outstanding tickets or fees:
    • You must resolve these debts with the court before the DMV will process your renewal.

    If you did not receive a renewal notice, contact your local DMV office to verify your address on file. Importantly, your renewal notice will show whether you can renew in person, by phone, or by mail.

    For more specific details about your vehicle, contact the CA DMV directly.

Military Member Registration Renewals

Military members may renew their registration online, by mail, or in person at a local CA DMV office.

The California DMV allows military members on active duty or stationed in another state to postpone payment for their registration renewal until they return to California.

To apply for a penalty waiver, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • An active member of the U.S. Armed Forces.
  • Temporarily deployed outside the state and engaged in combat or activities related to homeland defense.
  • Not deployed for training, processing or a permanent change of station.
  • Applying for a penalty fee waiver to postpone registration fees you incur during your time of deployment.

For a renewal fee waiver, you must visit a local CA DMV office and complete your California registration renewal. See Renewing Registration in Virginia for specific instructions.

Remember to also complete a Statement of Facts (Form REG 256). You can declare your deployment dates and active-duty status on this form.

NOTE: All applicants have 60 days from the termination date of their deployment to apply for a penalty waiver.

Emissions & Smog Tests in California

California requires emissions inspections every 2 years. California does NOT require you to have a biennial emissions inspection if your vehicle is:

  • Gasoline-powered and model year 1975 or older.
  • An electric vehicle.
  • Diesel-powered and model year 1997 and older OR a gross weight above 14,000 pounds.

California requires a passing emissions inspection before you can renew your car registration. Individual counties set emissions requirements. Please contact your local CA DMV office to determine if your county requires an emissions test to renew your registration.

You can find local smog test stations on the DMVGO.com nationwide directory.

CA Registration Renewal Fees

The model year of your vehicle, its weight and value will determine how much the DMV charges you for your registration renewal fees. Some counties may assess additional local county fees.

Here is a list of registration fees for all vehicles at the California DMV:

  • CA vehicle registration fee: $61.
  • California Highway Patrol (CHP) Fee: $28.
  • County and District fees.
  • Use/Sales Tax, if applicable.
  • Vehicle license fee.
  • Transportation Improvement fees (varies by vehicle value):
    • $0 to $4,999: $27
    • $5,000 to $24,999: $55
    • $25,000 to $34,999: $110
    • $35,000 to $59,999: $165
    • $60,000 and up: $192

Late Fee for CA Registration

The CA DMV does NOT offer a grace period with payments for your annual registration renewal fee. In other words, there are penalties for late renewals in California.

Late fees will depend on how long your CA registration has been delinquent:

  • Less than 1 year: $30.
  • 1 year to 2 years: $50.
  • More than 2 years: $100.

The California DMV provides a Fee Calculator. There you will find all of the various fees for new vehicles, used vehicles, non-resident vehicles, renewals, and Vehicle Licensing Fees (VLF).

Payment Methods

Every California DMV office accepts certain payment methods for vehicle registration.

Generally, the California DMV will accept the following payment methods:

  • VISA/Mastercard.
  • American Express.
  • Discover.
  • Cash.
  • Check.
  • Money Order.
Contact your nearest California DMV office location for specific payment information.

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Last Verified:
Aug 10, 2022